Tags: Bobby Jindal | George W. Bush | GOP2016 | school choice | gop | jindal

Why School Choice Makes GOP Win Elections

By    |   Tuesday, 04 August 2015 10:04 AM

“You guys better get somebody good.”

As a high-profile GOP leader in South Florida (former Palm Beach County Republican chairman for 10 years) I hear that plea incessantly. Everyone has an opinion: “Jeb can win.” “Nobody will vote for another Bush.” “Marco is charismatic.” “Marco is too young.” “Walker stood up to the unions.” “Walker never graduated from college.” And on it goes.

I don't have the time or patience to explain to everyone why those questions are irrelevant. But in 2012, Palm Beach County gave 33,000 more votes to Mitt Romney than to John McCain in 2008, the best of any urban county in America. Now I'll tell you how.

First off, why do we need “good” candidates? They never have them.

Our candidates are always better than theirs. We have 16 candidates this cycle. All are more qualified and more honest than Hillary. That's a given.

We nominate war heroes (Bob Dole and McCain) and job creators (Romney and George “W.”). They nominated a womanizer (Bill Clinton), a community organizer (Barack Obama) and, soon, and the ethically challenged (Hillary Clinton). And we still lose.

We lose because the political world has changed and the Republican world hasn't. Once upon a time both parties sought out highly qualified, well respected candidates.

Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson, John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Walter Mondale. These were recognized and accomplished Americans. The electorate was engaged on a relatively high level and the candidates had to make their case. No longer.

Today's electorate is emotional (not intellectual), polarized (not “undecided”), and heterogeneous (not white Christian). Only nobody told the Republicans.

So the Republicans live in their candidate-centric obsolete universe where they cling to an unrealistic hope that they can find the magical candidate and an untapped treasure trove of additional white voters.

The country has moved on to an elewctorate-centric model where the candidates and the issues are somewhat irrelevant, and getting your voters to the polls is the whole ball game.

Indeed, the Democrats call the urban minorities “low information voters.” They give them palm cards and march them to the polls to institutionalize their own poverty. And we let them.

“They'll never vote for us.” That's the typical Republican response when I explain that without “other” voters the GOP can never again reach 50 percent in a national election.

And then I explain that eventually the changing demographics will cost us statewide elections everywhere. That response, of course, is insulting.

To assume that large numbers of urban Americans are satisfied with substandard housing, high crime, uncontrolled gangs, underperforming schools and a dearth of responsible adult males is to unfairly characterize people you don't know.

That's what Mitt Romney did in his “47 percent” comment. The truth is that our urban neighbors want better lives for themselves and their children. Just like us. But they won't trust strangers to give it to them.

Democrats abuse urban minorities while Republicans ignore them. So they vote for the devil they know and we (the GOP) refuse to engage.

I know three two-term governors who never said “They'll never vote for us.” Conservative Bobby Jindal, moderate Chris Christie, and tea party favorite Rick Scott. Bobby Jindal got 60 percent of the black vote on a nine-person ballot for his re-election landslide.

Chris Christie got 20 percent for his. Rick Scott squeaked out a 1 percent victory by dipping his toe into the urban electorate and doubling his black vote.

It's not the candidate. It's the electorate and the sincere desire to engage all of it.

So where does a candidate go from here? We must move from the candidate-centric model to the electorate-centric model. In other words, the campaign has to have a parallel campaign plan specific to the urban minorities in his district. And that “new” plan has to account for all the campaign elements that went into the old, boilerplate plan, starting with the Issues poll.

When you poll urban minorities on issues you are unlikely to wind up with Iran, deficits, Obamacare or abortion as the top issues.

Most likely you will hear about jobs, school choice and crime. And, of course, not all minorities are the same. The Puerto Ricans in Orlando, the blacks in Baltimore, the Cubans in Miami and the Mexicans in El Paso will have very different priorities from each other and from the 1 percenters in the town of Palm Beach.

The Democrats have always said there is no silver bullet for the Republicans in the urban communities. They're wrong — it's school choice. They're waiting for Superman, and he's a Republican.

Govs. Jindal, Christie, and Scott were re-elected because of school choice. It's an issue so powerful it gave Jindal the white vote, the black vote, the male vote and the female vote.

Teaching their kids to read is the single biggest issue for black women (single or married). You can take that to the polling booth. Get that demographic and you can't lose.

Then you need to include the GOP county and state committees in the “new” campaign plan.

That provides volunteers on the ground who actually know minority voters. That will lead you to urban media: radio, television, and newspapers that most of us have never heard of.

That brings us to the last main piece of the puzzle. Every campaign must have a high-level assistant campaign manager for the urban electorate.

That person must be guaranteed constant access to the candidate and the campaign manager.

That person will direct all the activities and create all the events that will make the urban electorate a full partner in the campaign. Without this function the campaign cannot succeed. Ask McCain and Romney. This can't be done on the cheap.

Niger Innis is the best-known black conservative activist in the country. He is the executive director of the Congress of Racial Equality. He and I discussed the reluctance of the GOP to integrate the urban electorate into their campaigns.

We came to the following conclusion: Most GOP campaign managers don't know urban minority Republicans with the skill set to serve in a senior level position in a major campaign.

To solve that problem, Niger and I formed Inclusive Elections, a limited liability corporation committed to filling the organizational gaps that Republican campaigns often have. Every Republican campaign should get a minimum of 20 percent of the black vote and 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Now!

Sid Dinerstein, author and political analyst, is former chairman of Palm Beach County Republican Committee and former CEO of JBS Associates. He is the author of "Adults Only — For Those who Love Their Country More than Their Party."

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The Democrats have always said there is no silver bullet for the Republicans in the urban communities. They're wrong — it's school choice.
school choice, gop, jindal, hillary
Tuesday, 04 August 2015 10:04 AM
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